Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Peggy Tizzard 1939-41

Photo: "Images of Wales: Around Brecon" by Mike Davies, published in 2000.
Barely visible on the photo are the words:" 104 children in Adelina Patti Hospital"

My name is Catherine Margaret Tizzard but I am known as Peggy.
I was born on July 21 1936. I was living in Crofty when I was admitted to Craig-y-nos as a 3 years old.

Arrival in hospital
“I was told I was going on holiday and wore a red coat and a red beret. Then they left me in a cot with lots of other children. I can remember crying quite a lot when I was put into this cot but after that the nurses were very kind so I settled quite all right.

Every morning I had injections. Later I was told that they were gold and sulphur injections.

The rules were strict. There were certain areas you couldn't go to.

You were not allowed to go downstairs and you were not allowed to go into the kitchen and obviously you were not allowed to go outside.

Would you be punished if you broke any of those rules?
Yes, when I was allowed out of bed I decided I would go walkabout and I went outside and they found me by the lake.
I was sitting in this wooden building throwing sticks at the swans and ducks.
They had a big search party for me. When they found me they took me back and tied me to the bed.
I was put into a canvas sort of contraption.

I remember that experience.

Were you ever cold?
Yes I was cold and I was told that if you are cold just pull the blankets up around you and snuggle down under the blankets. And that was it.

How did visitors cope with the cold?
Well, when my mother came she used to keep her coat on.

Can you describe your daily meals?
I can remember having chips and porridge. The smell of porridge today I just cant stand because they used to put syrup on the porridge and it brings back so many horrible memories of the food.

Did you have anything special at Christmas time?
I cant remember Christmas at all. Just one day seemed like another day.

Once I was given a balloon but whether that was for my birthday or Christmas I don’t know.

Can you recall going to the Adelina Patti theatre?

Yes when I was allowed out of bed one of the nurses wrapped me in a blanket and sat me in the theatre and I can remember sitting there looking at the picture of Madam Patti and thinking how lovely she was and then suddenly a woman picked me up and cuddled me and I started to cry because this person was a stranger and I didn't realise that person knew me but I didn't know her.

She was from my village.

Did you make any friends amongst the children?
No because we were in cots so we had very little contact with each other. I can vaguely remember some of the children sitting there playing with pieces of paper but other than that nothing. We were not allowed soft toys because they would have to be fumigated .

Were you moved into the women's ward?

Yes , after a while I was taken upstairs into the women’s ward. I was the only child there and was spoilt rotten.

Did you ever see other children?
No, except once when Dr Jarman brought his son in who was the same age as myself and we spent time rolling this thing, like a round ball, down the stairs. Eventually Dr Jarman came back and he picked it up. He said it was an orange and he peeled it and we ate it.
It was the first orange I had ever seen.

Can you remember any members of staff?
Yes I can remember Sister Morgan who I used to follow around once I was allowed out of bed. She was my favourite. She was so kind.
Also Dr Doughty and Dr Jarman. Dr Doughty went to war and when he came back on a visit he walked into the ward and saw me and picked me up and carried me around the ward which he used to do before he went away.

A special bus came up from Swansea and waited for the visitors and took them back again.

Were they allowed to bring you anything?
No, we were not allowed to receive anything but on one occasion my mother brought in chocolate biscuits that the villagers had collected coupons for me to have because it was wartime and she fed me the chocolate biscuits and I was promptly sick

Do you remember any upsetting moments during your stay at Craig-y-nos?
No...other than when my father was leaving and I didn't know he was being sent home to die.

I was wrapped in a blanket and carried downstairs.

He hugged me and I cried because he was walking away and I didn't know that he was going home to die and I wanted to go with him wherever he was going and he gave me a book which I was not allowed to keep because of the risk of infection.
So that was the last gift from my father.

How did you pass your time?
My local teacher sent in a slate and a piece of chalk .
Then I was allowed some bricks and they had pictures on four sides and I played with them quite a lot.

I was able to bring them home. I passed them on to my nieces and nephews and now their children.

What can you remember about going home?
I had never been outside for two years so when my mother came to take me home she forgot to bring shoes. I always wore slippers. So I got on the bus to go home to Swansea wearing slippers.
I found it difficult because the house was full of people, strangers, obviously they were neighbours but I didn’t recognise them. They were waiting to welcome me home.
But my father wasn't there.
So I took my teddy bear and went upstairs to bed.

What effect did the stay in Craig-y-nos have on your life?
I think it has made me appreciate other people, also tolerance, and I can enjoy my own company.

Peggy Tizzard was interviewed by Maureen Mountford, volunteer oral historian at The Sleeping Giant Foundation.

Additional research Ann Shaw:
Peggy became a nurse then a teacher.
She recalls being told by her headmaster that she was “too dull” to take the 11 plus.
Later she got an opportunity to go to grammar school but she was interviewed in Welsh and she was so nervous she replied in English.

She left school at 15 and became a nursery nurse. She suffered a relapse and decided to go into teaching. She went to Trinity College Carmarthen and after that took a diploma in education from the University of Swansea.

This project is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

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